The Playground Inspections and Testing Professionals

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

This test is done using equipment known as an accelerometer which calculates the critical fall heights of a playground surface. The equipment has a hemi impact head-form in a guide rail system with a single vertical accelerometer.  Surface testing gives a good indication of the impact absorbing properties of any surface.

Various factors significantly impact the effectiveness of your surfacing.  These include usage rate, seasonal variations and maintenance.  It is important to perform impact surface testing on playgrounds that have elevated play equipment.

Safety Surface or Drop testing can be carried out on all types of playground surfaces. This test is usually conducted for solid playground surfaces, like wet pour rubber, soft fall tiles and synthetic grass.  Loose fill surfaces [i.e. sand, bark mulch] installed in playgrounds need to be maintained to appropriate minimum depth to ensure ongoing compliance with the Australian Standard (check the test results of the loose fill product for the minimum depths 200mm).

Evidence of adequate playground surfacing may be required for the licensing processes of Education and Care Services.

Drop testing may be recommended following installation of the solid playground surfacing to confirm that the installation meets the critical fall height rating in accordance with the Australian Standard: AS 4422:2016 “Playground surfacing – Specifications, requirements and test method”. This Standard provides the general requirements for surfacing to be used in children’s playgrounds and specific requirements for areas where impact energy attenuation is necessary.

By the Australian Standards: AS 4422:2016 it is recommended that drop tests be done every 3 years.

A drop test determines if the playground surfacing is continuing to cushion the impact of a fall from the equipment provided in the playground. The major purpose of any impact absorbing surface is to prevent serious head injuries (brain damage) to children that may fall from the equipment.

We recommend the following comprehensive guide from KIDSAFE

http://www.kidsafensw.org/playground-safety/:

“Moveable Play Equipment – A guide for playground owners and educators”

The following is a list of hazards which can help you during your routine inspections of your playground / play space:

  • Contamination in and or mulch e.g. broken glass, syringes etc
  • Hard surfaces under equipment
  • Sharp edges and pinch points
  • Inadequate falling space/impact area
  • Overcrowded play areas
  • Incorrect and non-compliant playground surfacing
  • Broken or faulty equipment
  • Badly weathered or worn timber edges
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Overhanging objects
  • Entangling or entrapment hazards
  • High platforms without barriers
  • Inappropriate use of equipment
  • Trip hazards caused by tree roots and raised or damaged edges

  • Reduction in potential playground injuries
  • Effective resource utilisation
  • Efficient planning and budgeting
  • Improved public image and community relations
  • Fresh eyes from a trained professional to view your environment

You may be in breach of your duty of care if a student at your school or child care centre is injured while playing on playground equipment and it is found that the equipment does not comply with Australian standards or it has not been regularly inspected and maintained.

A child care centre, school and Council has a duty of care obligation to ensure that:

  • its existing playground equipment is safe for its users,
  • new equipment meets standards of construction that are current at the time of construction, and
  • the equipment is maintained in a safe condition.

Australian Standards might be a great reference point for businesses, but they are not legally binding. However, if an Australian Standard is incorporated into legislation by government (and they often are), then the Standard will become mandatory.

Suppliers of any installation should provide written confirmation that the playground equipment and its playground surface meet the requirements of the Australian Standards.

Australian Standards for Playgrounds

Listed below are the current Australian Standards for Playgrounds and Playground Equipment.  Copies of the Standards can be purchased from:

https://infostore.saiglobal.com/

  • Australian Standard AS 4685 Playground equipment and surfacing

Part 0 – Development, installation, inspection, maintenance and operation

Part 1- General safety requirements & test methods

Part 2 – Additional specific safety requirements & test methods for swings

Part 3 – Additional specific safety requirements & test methods for slides

Part 4 – Additional specific safety requirements & test methods for runways

Part 5 – Additional specific requirements & test methods for carousels

Part 6 – Additional specific requirements & test methods for rocking equipment

Part 11 – Additional specific safety requirements & test methods for spatial networks

  • Australian Standard AS 4422: Playground surfacing – Specifications, requirements and test method
  • Australian Standard AS 1428: Design for access and mobility

Part 1 – General requirements for access – New building work

Part 2 – Enhanced and additional requirements – Building and facilities

Part 3 – Requirements for children and adolescents with physical disabilities

Part 4 – Means to assist the orientation of people with vision impairment – Tactile ground surface indicators

Part 5 – Communication for people who are deaf or hearing impaired

  • Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 8124 Part 6 (ISO 8124-4:2014, MOD): Safety of toys – Swings, slides and similar activity toys for indoor and outdoor family domestic use
  • Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS ISO 31000: Risk management – Principles and guidelines;
  • Australian Standard AS 4989: Trampolines for domestic use – Safety aspects
  • Australian Standard AS 3533.4.2: Amusement rides and devices. Part 4.2: Specific Requirements – Contained play facilities.